Thank you very much, Chairman Levitt and distinguished members of the committee. Please accept my apologies, also, for the misunderstanding on the timing of this.
I'll add some insights on thinking about climate's impact on the future of geopolitics in the Arctic. In our research we have found it useful to consider the potential effects of climate change on Arctic geopolitics in the context of other factors that influence activity in the region in two ways.
First, forces other than climate can also play a fundamental role in promoting, restricting or otherwise spatially influencing access to the Arctic. These forces include technological advancements such as the ability to operate in icy waters, automate processes and connect to different networks; legal conventions and regulations; military postures and operations; and widely observed operational and cultural norms, including those related to risk-taking. Other forces shape activity in the Arctic by either motivating or discouraging it. Examples of these include economic opportunities as well as socio-cultural priorities such as support to indigenous communities and the symbolic importance of the North Pole.
Though scenarios may often prove to be wrong, we have found them useful in our exploration of focal issues that might challenge, or not, co-operation and security in the Arctic. My written testimony includes some of the topics we've explored.
Overall our research has found relatively few flashpoints that would plausibly undermine international co-operation in the Arctic in the 2020s and 2030s under the growing changes influenced by climate. However, there are a few wild cards that could, under rare circumstances, lead to increasing tensions and result in some form of breakdown in vision and communication between Arctic nations and stakeholders.
These include three wild cards: first, should maritime access and activity increase faster than countries anticipate and can manage with existing physical infrastructure, regulations and other supporting functions; second, if untapped Arctic offshore oil and gas suddenly become much more economically viable and countries perceive their seabed claims as contested; and the third and final one I'll mention, should nations perceive a security void in the region brought on by a series of maritime safety and security incidents that reflect negatively on co-operation, and in this context, if nations decide to take stances on longer-term security issues.
In conclusion, Arctic nations may increasingly contend with the need to find a forum or forums in which to appropriately discuss security-related matters. With barriers to physical access changing because of climate, it may be necessary to consider whether it's possible to open new dialogues to the mutual benefit of all stakeholders.